The ncdump command reads a netCDF file and outputs text in a format called CDL.
The ncgen command reads a text file in CDL format, and generates a netCDF data file. The nccopy command copies a netCDF file from one binary format to another, optionally changing compression and chunksize settings.
The utility ncdump can be used to show the contents of netCDF files. By default, ncdump shows the CDL description of the file. This CDL description can be fed into ncgen to create the data file.
The ncgen utility can take an ASCII input file, in CDL format, and generate a binary netCDF file. It is the opposite of ncdump.
The nccopy utility can copy a netCDF file, changing binary format, chunk sizes, compression, and other storage settings.